On the last day of a recent retreat, me and other participants were asked by our mentor and facilitator Ms Leah Tolentino to collect some small stones and leaves outside the room. Later, we gathered them all in the room’s center, laying them down carefully on the floor. Then, we were asked again to scatter them all over the floor. Wondering what to do with those leaves and stones, we followed again the next instruction. Half of the participants wore a blindfold, while the other half were to guide those blindfolded as they danced across the room. They must guide the blindfolded, allowing them to dance without stepping on or messing up the stones and leaves.
That was a simple task. I was among the first participants that were blindfolded. At first, I had no clue who was the one guiding me, but I started dancing. I danced, but not the usual way I do fluidly. This time, I carefully moved my feet, stepping but not tiptoeing, gracefully synchronizing my hands, torso and limbs. I was neither bothered nor afraid of stepping the stones or leaves. In fact, I felt free, knowing that dancing was much more liberating when eyes were temporarily blinded. I paid attention to the movement of my hands like the gentle falling of leaves, to my arms that sway like branches of a tree, and my steady stepping of feet from one spot to another like huge roots radiating and crawling slowly upon the Earth.
After the exercise, our mentor gave a brief commentary on its symbolic significance. She said that in a moment when we are incapable of seeing our dance, it would be very difficult to move. The stones and leaves scattered on the floor appeared as obstacles beneath our feet. We are inclined to avoid them, and relied only on our unseen guide as we moved in that dancing space. She said it would take an attitude of total trust and surrender to the ones who really see, and continue to move despite of being “blind.” At such moment, even if those leaves and stones appear as obstacles, they were not really obstacles. Our mentor related to them as creations. They were integral part of dance.
Dancing is the very rhythm of life – it is how the soul moves in harmony with all creation.
For a minute, I reflected over my experience. It never occurred to me that the leaves and stones were obstacles. Yet, they neither occurred to me as creations at first. All I had was the dance, that freedom of moving along that space without fear of hitting the wall or stepping on a stone or a leaf or somebody else’s feet. All I had was the movement of my hands, gracefully waving in the shadow of my blindness, and happily moving – dancing – with my unseen guide. Of all the many dancing I did, this one taught me a deeper truth why I dance. I realize that dancing is not a performance; to be praised because of one’s ability comes secondary. Dancing is the very rhythm of life – it is how the soul moves in harmony with all creation. To embody this truth is the very essence of dance.
My thoughts brought me to many of my life’s obstacles. At times I was bothered by them, feeling helpless and hopeless. As I am not a perfect being like everyone else, I sometimes feel that the world has gone wrong, or that I am clueless of what to do, given my knowledge and deep insights. The world out there is too powerful, too overwhelmingly great in scope and magnitude. To make it favor me is beyond my control, let alone change its crooked and corrupted ways. Not to mention the question of how I can smoothly deal with all personal difficulties and conflicts with myself and others as I normally live my life.
The obstacle is the path. This is a Zen saying. To take that journey, to find that path is to face those mountain of obstacles ahead. The path of spiritual awareness of Love is not a smooth sail. Learning Love pushes me beyond my intellectual thresholds. I step onto Love’s unknown dimension to which I encounter those daily struggles, search for clear answers to my most puzzling life questions, and accept and embrace my hidden shadows. All I need is to have faith and continue the journey, to welcome the paradoxical presence of those obstacles. Because surmounting them all along the way is an adventure and discovery.
Again, I was brought back to my dance. From there, I have started to learn that this deep faith always energizes me to move in harmony and synchrony with all those obstacles. To see them not as scattered waste but beautiful creations – leaves and stones I co-exist with. I have chosen and placed them in the space where I dance, and even if I do not see them as I move, I am confident that I am guided in every movement and every step. All I have to do is to live this dance, to continue this journey. Thus, in such realization, there are no more obstacles, only creations.